1. Q: I live in NW San Antonio on rock with 4 to 18" of black clay fill and a St Augustine yard. My yard does have a sprinkler system but I would like to discontinue or minimize turf irrigation. Is it possible to start a new lawn from seed, as I have about 14,000 sq ft of lawn to replace? I can live with a brown lawn during hot dry summers as long as it goes dormant. I have been considering buffalo grass but was told it needed a fairly deep soil.
A: You are experiencing the same problem that a lot of us are in San Antonio this year. After this drought is all said and done, four grasses will emerge as the types to plant in areas prone to drought. For dense shade, Floratam St. Augustine will be used. It is the most drought-tolerant, disease resistant and pest-free St. Augustines available. Some watering will be required during drought but it is the only grass which will tolerate shade. Otherwise, ground covers such as Asiatic jasmine and English Ivy will have to be used. For partial shade, Emerald Zoysia will be the best choice. For full sun areas which will be used for activity, either Tifway bermuda or one of the plant-from-seed hybrid bermudas will be used. These too will require some watering, especially the Tifway, during the drought but will tolerate heavy traffic. For low traffic areas, the 609 Buffalo grass will be the best choice. It has to be sodded and will go dormant during periods of drought BUT IT WILL COME BACK. As far as needing deeper soils, ALL GRASSES TOLERATE DROUGHT BETTER WHEN PLANTED ON A DEEP (MORE THAN 4 INCHES) SOIL which has a greater water-holding capacity. By the sounds of your situation, I would wait until the rains come and overseed with a hybrid bermuda type. If the rains are late (after September) you may have to overwinter with a rye grass cover. Remember, when you plant grass seed of ANY kind, you should water two or three times daily until the grass seed emerge.
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